- The National Restaurant Association launched ServSuccess during its keynote session Sunday at its annual NRA Show. The career development initiative provides professional certifications, online training, adaptive learning guides and assessments for restaurant employees and those interested in the industry.
- The program is segmented into three tracks — the certified-restaurant professional, supervisor and manager — and is tailored for the skills needed in each.
- Courses start at $20 and certifications at $50, Sara Anderson, director of workforce development for the NRA, told Restaurant Dive. Each class can be taken individually or stacked, depending on need.
Many restaurants have implemented their own workforce development plans to retain talent, but with the muscle of a large organization like the National Restaurant Association, an industrywide strategy could be in the works if ServSuccess is widely adopted.
"It's hard to take on the elephant," said Anderson. But the restaurant industry is at a crossroads, where unemployment levels are at a nearly 50-year low and the need for talent is high. To top it off, "retention is a huge challenge for our industry" said Anderson — and a costly one at that.
According to research from TDn2K, it takes $2,000 to hire and train a new hourly employee and nearly $15,000 per manager. The average turnover rate in the industry is over 70%, meaning restaurants will lose seven employees out of 10 in a year, and those costs add up quickly. For restaurants operating on razor-thin margins, turnover could devastate their bottom line.
In the race to keep employees satisfied, some are ahead of the curve in tackling career development. McDonald's has a mentorship program and offers free career services, while rival Burger King has a weeklong leadership development initiative. Just last week, Deliveroo also launched Deliveroo Academy, which gives its drivers access to 300 online classes that could help them launch a business.
But what ServSuccess may have the potential to do is streamline career development across the board, whether a restaurant is an independent brand or a large corporation. In the pilot leading up to Sunday's launch, the NRA worked with "hundreds" of companies across all regions and segments to do analysis on various jobs to identify what skills are needed and certified over 300 individuals, Anderson said. Among them were independents like Urban Farmhouse Markets, fast casual chain McAlister's Deli, hospitality and management company Creative Dining Services and Delaware North, which has full service, fast casuals and locations in sports arenas. Anderson also noted that they're wrapping up its partnership with Darden Restaurants.
"We're fighting against the perception that we're just J-O-Bs — just entry level jobs," said Anderson. "We have to do a better job of illuminating the career pathway and demonstrate the career advancement we have."